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Entertainment News

Sunday, 28 September, 2008 1:35 PM

CMA New Artist Spotlight: Crystal Shawanda

Photo by Laura Crosta

RCA Nashville recording artist Crystal Shawanda

By Bob Doerschuk
© 2008 CMA Close Up News Service

Though raised on a reservation on Canada's Manitoulin Island, Crystal Shawanda grew up with Nashville in her soul. She experienced the Music City dream for the first time at 11, when she rode with her father on his trucking run and spent some time on Lower Broadway, peering through the window into Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Two years later, she worked up the courage to sit in there with the band. That's all it took for her to become a semi-regular at the venue whenever she was back in town.

By that time, Shawanda was taking deeper notice of life back home. Resisting the despair that pulled so many of her friends into addiction and early death, she channeled her emotions into a vocal and writing style that was steeped in Country but intensified by a wrenching passion reminiscent at times of Janis Joplin yet elevated by feelings of hope and celebration.

The title of her RCA Records Nashville debut album, Dawn of a New Day, is a translation of her Ojibwe last name, but it also reflects the essence of her music. Produced by Scott Hendricks, it reflects Shawanda's soulful side on her first single, "You Can Let Go," written by Cory Batten, Kent Blazy and Rory Lee Feek, which focuses on the moment when a bride is given symbolically by her father to her husband. Shawanda understands the lyric perfectly; her performance is a complex blend of love, affirmation and farewell - no easy achievement for a young singer and a harbinger of the artistry she seems sure to achieve.

IN HER OWN WORDS:

MUSICAL HEROES
"Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn."

SONG YOU'D LIKE TO COVER
"'I'm Over You' by Keith Whitley."

CD IN YOUR STEREO
"A mix CD of Dwight Yoakam and Fergie."

SONG YOU SING IN THE SHOWER
"Alicia Keys, Patsy Cline, opera music - basically, whatever pops into my head."

WHAT YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL SAY ABOUT YOU 50 YEARS FROM NOW
"Wild child makes good."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/crystalshawanda

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AMERICAJR NETWORK :: COACH'S CORNER PRO SHOP :: SAND CREEK RECORDS :: LIFE MADE EASY